Monday, December 13, 2010

Sold!



Julia and I will be starting a new year, and I guess a new life, in this house. We sold ours, by some miracle of God (or St. Joseph), in the rough Florida real estate market and we're moving back to Charleston after Christmas.

It's what I've been wanting since shortly after Mike died -- to be back in the place we considered "home," where we were surrounded by friends and fun and good memories. But now that it's becoming a reality, I'm starting to get nervous.


Mike and I bought our house when I was four months pregnant. We couldn't wait to move in and get things set up for the newest member of our little family. It's the place we brought our baby home from the hospital and sat around looking at her thinking, "Now what do we do?" It's the only home Julia has known and it's the home where Mike and I lived together the longest.



I have a job here with flexible hours and good health insurance. I have a few really good friends here. Like my friend Sara, who came to the hospital when my daughter was born and was there for me when my husband died. That's a lifelong kind of friend.


But it's also here where I feel like I'm moving through mud. Where I keep thinking Mike might walk through the door around 8 o'clock for dinner. Where I sometimes look over my shoulder at work thinking I might see him at his desk. It's where Mike was sick and where he died.



I'm not foolish enough to think that moving to a different house in a different town is going to magically make me feel better. But I think it will help for me to be surrounded by people who loved me and Mike and who can make sure Julia knows what a good man her dad was.


I don't have a job there. And that's ok. For now. I'm going to stay home with Julia for a little while so we can adjust to our new surroundings and routine. We've had a rough couple of years, and I'm looking forward to taking a break.


But it's so scary making such a major decision without Mike. And part of me feels like I'm betraying him by trying to move on. I sure hope I'm doing the right thing.


I keep turning to the Bible verse that our friend Monty read at Mike's memorial service. He told me his pastor called it the West Virginia Psalm because it talks about the mountains, so he chose it because he knows how much that means to me.


I lift up my eyes to the mountains --
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip -- he who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you --
the Lord is the shade at your right hand.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm --
he will watch over your life.
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
, both now and forever more.

Psalm 121

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Six months

I can't believe it has been six months. It's the longest I've gone in eight years without seeing Mike's face or hearing his laugh. And I know this is the season when we're supposed to be reflecting on all those things that we're thankful for, but quite honestly, I'm feeling robbed. And pissed off.

I'm mad that my daughter has to ask questions like the one she brought up at breakfast the other day: I haven't seen dada in a while. Where did he go?


I'm mad that I have to make major life decisions on my own when I can barely decide what to eat for lunch each day.


I'm mad that I have to sleep in a king size bed all by myself, worrying about burglars and ax murderers and house fires at night.


I'm mad that I have to be a single mother.


I'm mad that I have to deal with broken appliances and lawn care.


I'm mad that I've lost my best friend.


I'm mad that I don't get my happily ever after.


I'm mad that I have to take anti-depressants to get through the day.

I'm mad that people tell me I'm holding up well and if this happened to them, they wouldn't get out of bed. Because frankly, I wish I had the luxury of staying in bed all day.


I'm mad when I see happy couples or dads with their young daughters.

I'm just mad.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The closet





I wasn't ready to do it. But I had to. My house is for sale and I'm hoping to be moving soon. It doesn't make sense to pack up all of Mike's belongings and move them across the country, right? If I were staying, these clothes would probably stay right where they are forever, so I could keep sneaking away to the closet and burying my face in the shirt sleeves, trying to breathe him in.

Marina and Lisa came in for the weekend to help me tackle the unpleasant task of cleaning out the closet and drawers, sorting through Mike's possessions, including his beloved music collection. Without them, I don't think I would have gotten through.

We picked out some CDs and albums to keep. I made a box for Julia with his tennis trophy and newspaper articles. I kept the tennis racket and his glasses. I kept a shirt of his that I loved, the one he bought one time in Savannah when we ran into a Banana Republic to get out of the rain. It's probably the only time we ever went clothes shopping together.


As we were folding and sorting and putting things into boxes for Goodwill, I couldn't help but feel like I was erasing the evidence of Mike's existence. It really broke my heart. I have to keep telling myself that Mike was not his clothes. Mike was not his possessions. I have evidence of his existence right here...


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One foot in front of the other

I'm feeling quite proud of myself. It's pretty silly actually, but I booked a weekend trip for me and Julia. All by myself. Mike was the more experienced traveler of the two of us. It was his passion. He knew how to get the best airfares and where to stay, no matter where we went. He used to be so proud of his frequent flyer miles and hotel points. We flew first class to our honeymoon in St. Thomas for free. So whenever we needed to go somewhere, he made all the arrangements.

But I wanted to go to West Virginia this weekend. I have some things to take care of and wanted to see some friends. I booked two plane tickets, rented a car AND reserved a hotel room for one night. We're getting out of town!
(And I'm going to fly alone with a small person....)

And the other night, I made dinner... I know. These are things normal people do on a regular basis but I've been in such a funk and feeling so paralyzed lately. I love to cook. I used to make family dinners at least three times a week. Julia would stand on a chair in the kitchen and keep me company. But since Mike died, I just haven't cared much about making meals. I don't think about food until I'm starving. Then I eat whatever is easy. The effort required to make a grocery list has been too much for me. And whenever I do summon up the energy, I end up throwing the ingredients away because they've gone bad. I can't tell you how many packages of chicken breasts I've had to toss. I just never get around to it.


This summer, I had this grand plan that I would make dinner for some friends each week, to get me back to cooking, to give me something to do. It lasted two weeks. I've made a few things here and there, but nothing major. I live on sandwiches, soup from a can, frozen meals and take out.

But last night I had my mom over for rosemary pork tenderloin, sauteed green beans with blue cheese and bacon and red-skinned mashed potatoes. Yum-O.


Go me!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hopeless romantic?


These days, something as simple as a phone call to AAA to renew my membership can trigger a tidal wave of emotion.

Yes, it was another one of those calls where I had to remove Mike's name from an account, explain that he died, endure cursory statements of sympathy. But this time it was more than that. This time it was a reminder of Mike, of what kind of person he was, about how good I had it, and how large his loss looms.

Back when we were dating, Mike added me to his AAA account after I had some trouble with my car. He was worried about me breaking down somewhere when he was out of town, which he was a lot in those days. A co-worker couldn't stop gushing when I told her. "Carrie, do you know what this means? This means he loves you. This is more romantic than flowers or candy or jewelry."
I guess I didn't think that way at the time. But I see it now.

You might not think Mike was a hopeless romantic, but in his own way, he was. Sometimes he would just show up with a single flower. Once he brought over "Casablanca." Other times, his gestures were more grand.

The first Christmas we spent together, he got me a framed photo of a beach scene that we had seen in Cape Cod back in August of that year. He snagged a business card on the way out of the little shop in Provincetown, called the owner a few months later and tried to describe the photo. She hooked him up with the local photographer and he ordered the print. It's called "Journey's End." It still hangs in our bedroom.

Another time he got me a pale yellow wooden rocking chair. He had to pick it up from the furniture store, in the winter, in his 2-seater convertible. It was apparently wedged in the passenger seat while he drove to my apartment with the top down in the freezing cold. He attached a note -- it said "To Carrie, From Mike. You rock my world."

Even earlier this year, just days after being released from a nearly three-week stay at the hospital, Mike couldn't let Valentine's Day go without getting me something. He had my mom watch Julia while I was at work one night so he could go to Target. He was barely able to walk. But I had been talking about how excited I was that my favorite Food Network chef, Giada de Laurentiis, had a new line of cookware there. And on Valentine's morning, I woke up to a bright red bag full of Giada goodies.


Oh, I hope he knew how much he swept me off my feet, from those very early days when we couldn't get enough of each other, to most recently when we were in the midst of the everyday, of work and childcare, of house repairs and housework, and even sickness. He still swept me off my feet.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

She's FOUR




My baby girl is four years old today. She is sweet and smart and funny and beautiful. She loves to color and dance and read and eat Oreos. She's incredibly tall and has big brown eyes that will break your heart. She adores Ella and her cousins, her aunties and her nana. She laughs hysterically and can throw a fit like nobody's business.

But she also carries a sadness around with her. She's changed this year. She misses her dada. She still calls him that. She doesn't understand why he's gone or where he went. But I think she knows he's not coming back. Her whole little world has been turned upside down. And she doesn't know what to do about it. She's started biting her lip, so much that she has a scab on her face. And she grinds her teeth. She's nervous. These are her nervous habits. Her doctor said she is grieving.


Even her relationship with me is different. Sometimes I am so wrapped up in my own grieving that I can't bring myself to get up and play with her. I don't feel like being silly. Or baking cookies. Or many of the things we used to do. I don't have the patience for tantrums either. I'm failing miserably at this single-mom thing. It's so much harder than I ever imagined.


My sweet girl, I am praying for a better year for you. I am praying that we can get it together soon. I am praying that I can be a better mama to you, that we can find our own groove together and find our happy again soon. You deserve that and so much more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Still here

We really haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I'm just not sure I have much to say. Actually, that's not true. I have lots to say. But I don't want every post to be sad and weepy.

So yes, it sucks a whole lot without Mike. More three months out than in the beginning. I think even Julia feels it. She tells me sometimes that she misses her dada. She has started crying hysterically when I drop her off at preschool because she thinks I might not come back, just like Mike isn't coming back.

As for me, I am irritable, cranky, sad, lonely, tired and utterly incapable of making a decision. Some days I can barely summon the energy to care for my daughter. Often, I waste an entire evening staring out the window.


But we're still here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

For Sale



Anyone want to buy a house in Florida? Close to the beach? With a pool?

I finally took the plunge and put my house on the market. It really wasn't a hard decision for me. I have been wanting to move back to Charleston pretty much since the day we got here. Mike did too. We had something really special there.
I always thought I wanted to live near the ocean, but it's really the mountains that have my heart. And I want that for Julia too.

I have some really good friends here, but it's been hard trying to go on about our normal routine without Mike, as if nothing ever happened. Being alone in our house and walking into the office past Mike's old desk makes his absence loom even larger. I feel like this is what we need right now. A happy place. A healing place.

It's probably going to take a while to get my house sold, so in the meantime, I'm trying to occupy my mind with thoughts of what life back in Charleston will be like: kidnapping Baby Felix so his parents can go out on a date, rocking out to Journey with GDirty, slumber parties with Tara, Marshall games, snowy weekends at Canaan with the Stadelmans, a quick road trip to Marina, Julia getting to see the leaves change color. She'll get to play with a ton of little girls her age -- Eva, Claire, Lily, Kate, Maggie and Grace.


And we'll get to be surrounded by the people who knew and loved Mike best, who can help keep his memory and spirit alive for us.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Random thoughts

For the past eight years, I've shared with Mike every single thought that has popped into my head. Many, he probably wished I had kept to myself. Others made him laugh. Most made him roll his eyes at me.

Everything from the price of paper towels at Publix to speculating whether that anchor on the Weather Channel was pregnant again. Most recently it was me calling him at work to tell him what I was making for dinner or the funny thing that Julia said. Sometimes it was me spouting political opinions that he didn't necessarily agree with but listened to nonetheless. Just random meaningless things. Whatever I was thinking.


Now that he's gone, I'm not sure what to do with all these thoughts. Over the past two months, I have wanted to tell him that I've started eating hummus, that I had bought him the new Stone Temple Pilots CD for Father's Day, that I was happy Nadal won Wimbledon because Mike knows I don't like it that Federer wins everything. I wanted to tell him how it's ironic that I've wanted to not work on Saturday nights for so long and now that I don't, I don't know what to do with myself and that there's not even anything good on TV. I wanted to tell him I was really ticked off about that birthday gift that arrived at the office for him.


And then there's the big things. I wanted to tell him that I was terrified TERRIFIED to speak at his celebration of life, but that I got through it by trying to summon up just an ounce of the enormous amount of courage that he showed every single day for the past two years. I wanted to pick his brain about how I really want to move back to Charleston and what I need to do to make that happen. I wanted to tell him that Julia is obsessed with the moon, particularly when it's out during the daytime. And that she peed her pants on her first day of preschool, but that her teacher said she's the smartest girl in the class. Of course she is!


And here she is on the first day.



And the second.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ode to a car



The first time I ever got a glimpse of Mike Cherry was two weeks after I started my internship at the Daily Mail back in May of 2000. I was standing out front with Todd Frankel (probably smoking a cigarette, though both of us are now reformed...) when a shiny silver sports car passed by. I will never forget what Todd said to me: That's Mike Cherry. He covers WVU for us. He just bought that car. But he lives in an attic apartment without a stove.

Two years later, after having become good friends with Mike, I got a coveted invite to one of the infamous Hatteras trips. Problem was, he was going down on Saturday with a group of friends, but Deanna and I couldn't go until Tuesday. And Mike really wanted that car at the beach.... So he decided to let us girls drive it from West Virginia to the Outer Banks. Eight hours. Alone. Everyone, and I mean, everyone, thought he had lost his mind.

In the weeks leading up to the big day, Mike gave me lessons. I mean, the S2000 was his baby, after all. He made me go to a baseball game he was covering in Logan. Yes, Logan. So I could practice on windy roads. It was during these little trips that I started thinking I might like Mike Cherry a little more than a friend. And it was on that beach trip, that he figured it out too. He and I drove back together in that car. The picture above I took of him on that drive, drumming on the steering wheel, top down, happy. I remember the song that was playing when we pulled into Charleston: If I Ever Lose My Faith by Sting. And I remember that even after eight hours in the car, I hadn't had enough of him, so I invited him over for pizza.

Later that summer, that car would take us to Newport, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod, and on our first of many trips to Savannah. Later, we went to Charleston, South Carolina, and to Detroit and Baltimore for concerts. I drove to Florida in it one New Year's Eve to meet up with Mike who was covering the Gator Bowl. We drove home together and on the way, he proposed to me in Savannah.

It wasn't much longer before Mike had to lift me out of that thing when I was pregnant with Julia.

I hadn't really been in it much in recent years. It's not exactly equipped with room for a car seat. And I sometimes thought it was too loud. But Mike still drove it every day, logging more than 200,000 miles.

He loved that car. And so did I. It's so much a part of our story.

And now it belongs to Mike's nephew, my nephew, Nick. It will probably be hard for a while for me not seeing it sitting in the driveway. But it makes my heart happy that it's with Nick. Mike adored Nick. He would want Nick to have it, to have as much fun in it as he did...


(A stop on the way to the Outer Banks, 2000. Rick Gano, Jody Jividen, Todd Frankel, Marina Hendricks, Jeff D'Alessio and Mike)


(At our townhouse in Fort Hill, 2004)


(Mike and Nick, Easter 2010)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Stuck

It's been nearly a month since Mike died and the world seems to have moved on, but I am stuck. Frozen in time.

Last week at work, they po
sted Mike's old job on the office bulletin board. Obviously, they'll need to hire someone. Obviously. Football starts next month. But when I saw that hanging there, I literally felt like I had been punched in the chest. I was unable to breathe. I still gasp when I walk past it. (I'm pretty sure I won't be able to work here anymore once there's someone else sitting in Mike's old desk, but that's another story.)

But there it is. The world is moving on.

At my house, it took me two weeks to pick up the pair of jeans that Mike left laying on the floor next to the bed. I did finally throw away the gazillion bottles of pills, but I still can't bring myself to do his dirty laundry. It was the last clothes he wore. If I wash it, there will be no traces of him, nothing that he touched. His toothbrush is still next to mine. All the coins he had lined up on his dresser are there collecting dust. I could barely bring myself to flip the calendar over to July because when it was June, Mike had been here.

I just don't like the idea of moving forward without him.

Julia and I did have a nice day at the beach a couple weeks ago. My friend Andrew got some great pictures.








Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who came to Mike's celebration Sunday -- many who came from far away to be there with us. I was so happy to see everyone and be around friends and family.

I feel so bad I didn't get to spend more time with some of you. I wish we could have had the space longer. I could have sat all night with you all talking about Mike and drinking wine.


Seeing my old friends in Charleston has made me so homesick. I'll have to make some major decisions regarding that at some point... I hope you'll all still have me if I can figure out a way to come home.


And I hope Mike's cousins, many I'm just really getting to know and many I wish I knew better, will still keep in touch.


A special thank you to everyone who participated. I know speaking in public is terrifying, but it was so wonderful to hear your stories and know how much Mike was loved.


I'm a little worried now that I don't have the planning of that event to keep me occupied that the coming days could be a little difficult. Things are already so different. I had to enroll Julia in day care today (sniff, sniff). So keep us in your thoughts please. Call or email anytime. Love to all of you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dress code

I'm getting lots of questions about the attire for the Celebration of Life. It's at a sports bar, so I would say you can be as casual as you want. Mike was a khaki-and-polo kind of guy anyway. Though he did look dashing in a suit. Don't you think?



P.S. Send me an email at ccherry@floridatoday.com if you're coming. Just trying to get a rough count for food, wine and beer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Head count

We're trying to get an idea of how many of you we might see at Mike's service in Charleston on Sunday. Just trying to make sure we have enough food and drink for everyone.

So a huge favor -- can you leave a comment here or shoot me an email at ccherry@floridatoday.com and let me know?

Thanks.

See you all soon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Video

Just wanted to share the link to a video from the Florida Today news show, Today in Brevard. The video is called Remembering Mike Cherry. It's done by Lee Nessel, the sports editor, and Brian McCallum, Mike's friend and fellow preps writer. There are clips of Mike when he appeared on the show as well.

It was hard to watch but good to hear his voice.

I can stop calling his cell phone voicemail now.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This sucks

When I pictured in my mind how this grieving thing would go, it involved me in a sobbing heap on the floor. But it's more like being lost in a fog. I can't seem to figure out what I'm doing. Or supposed to do. I pace. A lot. I walk from room to room not sure why I left one or entered the other. I reached into the freezer to get a waffle for Julia and found myself standing in the kitchen with a handful of ice, no clue how it got there.

I make to-do lists, then forget I have them. I am starving, but the thought of food makes me sick. Two bites of anything and I'm so stuffed I feel sick. I don't want to go back to work, but I don't want to stay home. I don't want company, but I don't want to be alone. I just don't want to be.

I'm keeping busy with planning the celebration of life service and dealing with a bunch of paperwork. I have friends around me and my mom is here. And of course, Julia, who is completely oblivious about what is going on. It's been nice looking through photos for the service and finding random things around the house, like all the shoes to Julia's princess dolls in his dresser drawer. Not sure the explanation on that one.

It's also been nice to go out to the mailbox or check my email and find an outpouring of love for Mike and for me. I'm reading all your comments and kind words and they really do help me get through the day.

I'm so looking forward to seeing everyone in Charleston, so we can share the good memories and funny stories.



I think I mentioned the prayer of St. Therese before. I said it a lot these past two years, but it's especially helpful now. I say it every morning.

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

MIMA

A few people have asked me about the MIMA Foundation, which is where we suggested people who want to do something to honor Mike make donations. I guess I should probably explain since our out-of-town family and friends probably haven't heard of it.

MIMA is the name of the medical practive where Dr. Neel (who many of you tell me you feel like you know) practices. It is also home to the MIMA Cancer Center where Mike had chemotherapy. We spent a lot of time there over the past two years. The doctors and nurses are top-notch and we always felt like Mike was receiving the best possible care.

The MIMA Foundation is their charitable organization which serves cancer patients here in Brevard County. After talking to Dr. Neel, I chose them because they have the greatest impact on real people in our community, people who probably sat next to Mike in one of the recliners during treatment. The donations fund grants for non-medical needs of cancer patients, including transportation, child care and housekeeping.

Their address is MIMA Foundation of Brevard, 1130 Hickory St., Building B, Melbourne, FL 32901.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sunday, June 27

We've set a date and reserved a space for a celebration of Mike's life. We hope everyone can join us.

It will be Sunday, June 27th from 5 to 7 p.m. at the clubhouse at the Appalachian Power ballpark in Charleston, W.Va. I realize this isn't a traditional setting for a memorial service but it somehow seemed fitting for Mike, especially when compared to our other options for space -- like a country club or a Marriott ballroom.

Mike did not want a traditional funeral service. His only wishes were to be cremated and have his ashes scattered at the Outer Banks. So this will be an informal gathering, with appetizers and drinks and lots of stories and memories about Mike.

I chose Charleston because that is where Mike spent most of his life, it's where we shared our lives and is the place we still call home. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In the works

I just wanted to let everyone know that we're working on a sort of "celebration of life" for Mike. He did not want a funeral, so I thought I would just try to gather everyone and we can share our memories.

Thus far, I know it will be in Charleston, WV, the weekend of June 26. Still trying to nail down whether it will be Friday night, Saturday or Sunday and still trying to find a place. I will update here when I have more details.

I also wanted to share a couple links to the stories and tributes that have been written about Mike. These have been so nice to read. It warms my heart knowing how many people love him and regard him so highly as a writer. One of Mike's friends said to me that it was no surprise that so many people claim Mike as a best friend. I have found that to be true. And I know that I am not grieving alone. This is a loss for so many people.

You can read the Daily Mail story here.
This one was written by Mike's friend and co-worker Brian McCallum at Florida Today.
This is the obit that I wrote.
Florida Today also did a news story.

Thank you so much for all the messages and calls. I do not exagerate when I say that your thoughts and words are getting me through the day.

And last, one of my favorite pictures.

Monday, June 7, 2010

At peace

Mike is gone. He died last night around 2 a.m. It was very peaceful and he was not in pain.

I envision him having a beer right about now with his good buddy Jody.

Thank you for all your prayers and support and love. I am sure that I will continue to need them for some time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Praying for peace

Mike's battle with cancer is coming to an end. He took a turn for the worse yesterday, struggling to breathe, and was moved to the ICU overnight. He has been asleep for the past 24 hours and is being kept comfortable with morphine. There's little else the doctors can do for him.

A few times this morning, he smiled at me.

Please pray for his comfort and peace.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

So much for that

Mike is back in the hospital. His body does not seem to like that other chemo. He had been doing fairly well for the first few days, just long enough for us to think everything was going to be ok. Then sure enough on Monday, he started feeling really tired and got a bloody nose. By Tuesday, he was extremely weak so we went straight to the ER.

The doctor there said it was a good thing we brought him in. His blood counts were totally depleted. He immediatly got some platelets and a blood transfusion and was, of course, admitted. We're back on the cancer floor, where we were back in January. I hate that place.

He's also started having some stomach issues and isn't eating. Oh, and a fever. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Here we go...

We're going forward with the second chemo drug tomorrow. I say we, but it's Mike who will be sitting in the chair with an IV in his port, toxic drugs coursing through his veins...

It was not a decision made lightly but one we feel is necessary. We know this drug has reduced the tumors before so we need to at least give it a second try because we're at such a critical point. Of course, it was this drug that was partly responsible for sending Mike to the hospital for almost three weeks earlier this year. So we have to be on alert, and at the first sign of dehydration or stomach trouble, he has to call the doctor and start getting fluids and medications. This will hopefully ward off the conditions that landed him in the hospital because Dr. Neel said Mike wouldn't survive another setback like that.

What an ugly decision to have to make. Do we try the drug that has been known to shrink Mike's tumors but might kill him? Or do we stick with just the one drug that may or may not work on its own and send Mike into liver failure if it's the latter? I hope and pray we made the right choice.

At this moment, I am torn between being scared to death and determined more than ever that we are ready for this fight.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

'A critical juncture'

That's where we are, what it's come to. A critical juncture. Those are Dr. Neel's words. We knew that the cancer had progressed. We didn't know how much, until today.

The entire liver is now involved. It's gone from one spot, to tumors throughout and they are starting to affect liver function. So getting them to shrink is critical. If the chemo doesn't work or Mike can't handle it, his liver will fail.

The news was a bit much to take. We have a couple options to consider. Mike went ahead and went to chemo today, just getting one drug. We'll have to decide in a couple days if we want to add back the drug he had last year -- the one that had much success in shrinking the tumors, but ended up making him sick enough in January to spend 18 days in the hospital.

The decisions will be made with the knowledge that Mike hasn't really been able to handle chemo this year. Each time he's had a cycle, he ended up in the hospital.

I can't tell you how Mike is feeling because right after chemo he went to work. But I will tell you that I feel like I am trying to breathe with a concrete block laying on my chest. Every inhale hurts. But I'm trying to picture in my mind what needs to happen. Mike needs to be strong enough to handle the chemo. Dr. Neel said he had to push through to get some in his system. And the chemo has to shrink the tumors. Has. to.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What's new?

Here's what we've been up to the past few days:

My mom and I took Julia to the zoo. She got to feed a giraffe. I was nearly pecked to death by a bird.



We went to the beach for our first chance to try out this season's hot new swimwear. I heart Target.



We had our favorite lunch: The lobster roll (with real Maine lobster, not this Florida crap...) at Suntree Cafe in Satellite Beach. YUM!



We also got the results of Mike's scans -- the cancer has shown some progression, which we expected because it's been quite a while since he's had any kind of treatment. He also got a shiny new port put in so he can start back on chemo next week. We're saying prayers and keeping fingers and toes crossed that he can handle the drugs so they can do their thing and shrink these stupid tumors.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day



Despite the crying, the yelling, the time-outs, the snot, the refusal to wear pants, the refusal to eat vegetables, the smudges on the glass, the messy room, the constant "No's" and the drawing on the furniture....

I love every second of this.


Happy Mother's Day, to all you mommies out there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where we're at

Got an update with Dr. Neel today. Mike's breathing is a lot better and things are looking good. He kind of feels like we're at the beginning again with the chemo situation since it's been a month since he's had treatment and two months since he had scans. So he ordered some new scans for sometime in the next couple weeks and we'll go from there.

Mike will also be getting a new port in a couple weeks. Turns out the one they removed in the hospital wasn't even infected after all... grrr. But better safe than sorry, I guess.

I think it's good that Mike will be getting a longer break from chemo so he can get some of his strength back. Although this is a picture from the day after he got out of the hospital, so I'd say he's doing OK.


(Hi Marina! We miss you!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dear Michael

Please stop apologizing to me. You say you are sorry that you are putting me through this. You say I shouldn't have married an older man. You say I am too young to have to deal with cancer. You say my 30s should be carefree.

I say that's hogwash.


That whole sickness and health thing was no joke. I even wore a white dress. I meant business. I wish with all my might that we didn't have the sickness part, but not for one single solitary second have I wished I had done things differently. (
Well maybe that one time after you dumped the bowl of cereal on the freshly washed dishes . . .)

You are the best part of me. You are the calm to my chaos, the laid-back to my high-strung, the funny to my serious. I still carry in my purse the printout of an email you sent me in 2002. It says: cas, here's the deal, i love you more than 100 butterfinger blizzards...
mwc.

If not for you, old man, I would never have left my comfort zone, like when you handed me a plane ticket and said "Here, we're going to Florida," even though I was terrified to fly. I would never have visited beautiful places like the cliff walks in Newport and that beach in Cape Cod. Remember? I would never have had the nerve to take a career risk like moving to South Carolina. You said, go for it. Climb. Seize the opportunity. Even at the risk of your own career. I wouldn't have gone back to school, because it was you who convinced me that you really need
to love what you do. Otherwise, it's not worth it, right? I would never have learned how to eat peel and eat shrimp or crack crab legs if not for your crustacean camp. I would never have developed an appreciation for old movies, Pearl Jam or Bailey's on the rocks. I would still be eating at chain restaurants, for goodness sakes. And most of all, if not for you, I wouldn't have this tiny little person, this Stooge-loving bundle of bliss who has my attitude and your sense of humor.



So, are we clear?

Love,
C

Monday, April 19, 2010

Home at last

Just a quick note to say Mike is home. He was set free late Friday night. The conclusion is that all this was a result of the chemo. We're not sure how much more of that he can take. Or maybe he just needs a break. We'll be talking to his doctors in a week or so to see where they want to go from here.

Anyway, he's feeling better now and I'm so happy to have him home.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Still there

Mike is still in the hospital, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed he'll be home tonight or tomorrow.

He had to have his port removed yesterday because he's had a fever, which meant an infection, and they couldn't find out where it was coming from. They suspected the port so they took the sucker out. He'll have to get another one put in on another day. His fever has gone down, so maybe they were right.


Now back to the reason he went to the hospital in the first place. He had to have his lungs drained this morning. They removed a pint of fluid. What is happening, the doctors tell us, is that the chemo he is on causes protein to build up in the kidneys and when there's too much, it spills out into the body, including into the lungs. They're giving him medicine to reduce the fluid and hopefully the draining will help.


Poor Marina, who is here visiting, is stuck running back and forth to the hospital and babysitting Julia instead of laying on the beach.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hospital, Take 2

Mike is back in the hospital. He was having trouble breathing yesterday, yet was insisting on going to work. That's Mike for ya. I talked him into calling the doctor and sure enough, he was admitted later that afternoon.

Basically, they want to run a lot of tests to rule out such things as, oh, a heart attack. They say that's highly unlikely. They also want to make sure it's not a blood clot. He's actually in the hospital's heart center instead of on the cancer floor, which is a good thing because I'm not sure I could take another moment there after the 18 days earlier this year.

Some tests were done last night. Another one this morning. We're waiting around a lot and seeing a bunch of different doctors -- the oncologist, an internist, a nephrologist and a cardiologist. One doctor thinks he has pneumonia. So they're giving him antibiotics. Dr. Neel thinks he should be able to come home tomorrow. We'll see....


One thing I was worried about, because Mike hadn't been feeling good for several days and because the doctor was concerned about his liver enzymes, was that the cancer had spread and was starting to affect organ function in his lungs and liver. Dr. Neel tells me that's unlikely. I'm going to take his word for it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two years later

This month marks two years since cancer came into our lives. And for the first time in a long time, we are really feeling the presence of this nasty disease. We had a really good year last year. The tumors were shrinking, Mike was relatively symptom free and even able to go off chemo for several months.

The new year brought a harsh reminder that cancer catches up to you. Mike spent 18 days in the hospital and has never fully bounced back. Yes, he's working and moving around and eating and gaining weight and getting back to a routine. But he's not himself. He doesn't feel good a lot of the time. Two years of pumping toxic chemicals into the body takes its toll. His blood pressure is out of whack, his nose runs all the time, he gets headaches and backaches, he can't sleep.


In the same breath I have to say that Mike is still very strong. He puts in a good 50 hours at the office each week. He takes care of Julia. He makes me laugh. I'm not sure how he does it. The prognosis for carcinoma of unknown primary is in months. And here we are, two years later.


I am grateful for every second.

But is it selfish for me to want more?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter!

The Casales spent Easter weekend with us.
We colored eggs.




We went on an Easter egg hunt.







We got baskets.



And we snuggled on the couch.



Good times.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Down from the mountains



Meet Julia's friends, Chris and Kelly. They used to be our friends from back home. But now they are hers. I think she likes Kelly best. But don't tell Chris.

We were so excited to have the Stadelmans in our neck of the woods. They came down from their mountain to our flat little part of the planet and it was so good to see them. We are so homesick for our Charleston friends. For a few moments, I could pretend while we were sitting around having drinks that we were back in the window seat at Mulligan's. Except for the 3-year-old running around in a tutu. And that Mulligan's isn't even Mulligan's anymore....


And even more excitement from the Charleston front. Marina is coming in a few weeks. And Todd and Stephanie and Baby Eli after that. They're coming from St. Louis, but technically they're still Charleston peeps.
This all makes us very happy.

Who's next?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another week, another transfusion

Poor Mike. He went to chemo today and ended up getting rejected. His platelets were too low. So guess what he's doing tomorrow? Getting another transfusion. His favorite thing.

Sense the sarcasm here?

So the second dose of the first roun
d of chemo is being delayed a week. But there is some good news in all this crap. He saw Dr. Neel this morning and he looked at the lump in Mike's neck and said "excellent, excellent." He seems to think it's going down with just the one chemo drug. So he's going to start the second round with just the one drug as well. The one he held off on was one that caused a lot of side effects that landed Mike in the hospital in the first place.

And some more good news?
He weighs 158. I think it was the ribs, Marina.

I'll leave you with another photo (taken by Andrew, of course) of Julia. Who could believe that moments after this was taken, this sweet, sweet, innocent-looking girl turned into a little monster, nearly ruining another toddler's birthday party with her drama?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My hero



Mike started back to chemo today. The cancer center has moved to a fancy new building with more space and high-tech stuff like a blanket warmer. So that's nice, I guess. For a cancer center.

But of course, it just sucks in general being in a place like that. And something always goes wrong. Today, it was his blood pressure. It's pretty high, most likely because his blood counts are low and he needs a transfusion. And we learned that as of Jan. 1, our insurance no longer covers transfusions at the cancer center. Instead, Mike has to be at a different facility in Palm Bay at 7:30 tomorrow morning, a good 40-minute drive from our home (and no, my liberal friends, this does not mean I would not trade our private health insurance for government-run nonsense that couldn't/wouldn't afford a single one of his treatments... but that's another story).


The whole cancer thing sucks, really. Mike hates every bit of it. He hates having to get up early for chemo and get ready, have me scramble around to get Julia ready, take her to my mom's, sit in the waiting room forever, waste a whole afternoon sitting in a chair. He hates the smell of the place. He hates having a port in his chest. He hates feeling like crud. Hates it all.


But I was looking at him today, and I snapped this picture, because it reminded me that as much as it sucks and as much as he hates it, he does it. He fights on. He sits in the chair because he wants to be around to take his baby girl to preschool. He sits in the chair because he wants to take her to the Jersey Shore someday to eat at Mack & Manco's pizza. He sits in the chair because he wants to get back to that little place on St. John where we snorkled on our honeymoon. He sits in the chair because he wants to be well enough to float in the pool and drink Yuengling. He sits in the chair because there are more stories he wants to write, because he wants to eat more of my creme brulee French toast, because he wants to see his niece and nephew graduate from high school. He sits in the chair because there's a whole lot worth fighting for.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Back to chemo

We saw Dr. Neel this morning and he thinks Mike is ready to get back on chemo. He's put on a few pounds and is looking healthier. For the first round, which starts next week, he's going to just have one drug, instead of two, to sort of ease him back into things.

So, here we go again. Please keep your fingers crossed that he handles it well, because we really have to get back to the business of fighting this stupid cancer.


And on a really sad note, sweet Layla Grace, who I wrote about last week, died Tuesday. Her mom announced it like this:
Layla went to play with the angels early this morning. Rest in peace precious Layla. 11/26/2007 - 3/9/2010

My heart is breaking as if this little girl I don't even know is part of my family. I will continue to pray for her and her parents and sisters. This stupid disease sucks, really bad.


I'll leave you with a picture of Julia from the Strawberry Festival, where she refused to eat a single strawberry, even though they are her favorite things. She also has learned that they are called strawberries and not strawbabies. This makes me very sad. She's so grown up. We signed her up for preschool this week. She starts in August. Sniff.. sniff..




(photo by Andrew Knapp)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring?



Could it be? It's been the longest, coldest winter we've had since moving here. I'm talking weeks in the 30s. This is Florida, people! The freeze killed a bunch of plants in our yard and with it being too cold to be outside, the landscaping has just gone to crap.

So we're on a mission to spruce things up, so we can get outside and enjoy it. We've been pulling weeds, putting down mulch, and planting stuff. Even Mike, who was just in the hospital last month, fertilized the lawn this weekend. He rocks, doesn't he?

We're having some trees removed this week and I'm totally redoing our atrium, a little courtyard thing in our house that has become such an eyesore. We're ripping everything out and planting new, pretty flowers. I've even invested in a power washer, and I have to admit, I love wielding that thing! I'll post some pics when we get done. One of these days.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Layla Grace


(photo from Praying for Layla Grace Facebook group)

This beautiful baby is Layla Grace. She is 2 years old and she has cancer. I stumbled across her story last week and I haven't been able to let go. She's been fighting neuroblastoma, a horrible childhood cancer, for almost a year. Last month, her family learned her cancer was worse and there was little else doctors could do. They brought her home to die.

Her parents have a blog where they've been writing about Layla's journey and they have 45,000 people on the Facebook group "Praying for Layla Grace" and 35,000 people following their story on Twitter. I am one of them. I can't get this little girl out of my mind. I constantly check for updates to see how she's doing.

This sweet girl, who I don't even know, has really affected me. Her story has brought me closer to God -- I find myself praying for her as hard as I pray for Mike, and I thank God for my own sweet girl and her health. Layla's story has made me stop and just reflect on how blessed I am and to get some perspective on what is really important. There were times this week when Julia was under my feet, making messes everywhere. I was getting so frustrated because I had a million things to do. And then I just stopped and thought about how Layla's mom would give anything to have her daughter under her feet, making messes everywhere. I just stopped and got down on the floor and played with Julia and held her so tight. So I'm posting this to remind me that this is what matters. The dishes can wait.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fattening up

We got some GOOD news today. Mike had his CT scans this week and saw Dr. Neel today. The lump in his neck has reduced. His chest is stable. The liver, they aren't really sure. If there was growth, it was minimal. So those two chemos he had a month and a half ago that started this whole ordeal were working.

But Mike's weight has dropped a lot this past month. He's down to 150. A skinny minnie. Dr. Neel wants him to gain some back before he returns to chemo. So in the next couple weeks, he's going to be eating A LOT. He's already started. On the way home from the doctor, he stopped and got a foot-long meatball sub and a Shamrock shake. Lord, I hope the efforts to fatten him up don't rub off on me...


So within the next three weeks, he should be returning to chemo. They will probably try to tweak the dosages to avoid a repeat of last time. But in the meantime, we are feeling incredibly blessed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chugging along

That's what we're doing, chugging along. Mike is feeling much better these days and is ready to return to work on March 1. Can you believe he's been out a month and a half? Crazy.

I'm ready for him to get back to work too, so I can have the remote back. (kidding...)


Last week, there were a few setbacks with his walking. His feet and knees were swollen and for a few days he was in a lot of pain. He saw some doctors, got some meds, and is back on his merry way.


He had to postpone his CT scan though because of the feet/knee thing, so that takes place tomorrow and we see Dr. Neel at the end of the week.


And as you can see, a certain someone still isn't leaving Mike's side:



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Quick update

We are so happy having Mike home. He continues to feel better every day and is making progress. He's eating more and moving around better. Julia and I even dragged him out to lunch the other day.

We saw Dr. Neel on Tuesday, just for a follow-up. He says Mike is still way too weak to get back on chemo right now. He wants to him to spend the next two weeks or so recovering. He'll get a CT scan next Friday and then we'll decide what to do next.

He did remark that the lump in Mike's neck feels like it has shrunk, A LOT. We're not going to get our hopes up, because we thought for five months that everything was OK and it turned out the cancer was growing. But you can barely see that thing.


So if there's a miracle to be worked, it will be that the tumors have shrunk enough from this one round of chemo that he won't have to go back on it for a while. Fingers crossed.

Friday, February 5, 2010

One happy girl



She hasn't left his side for a second.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fingers crossed

It's rumored Mike's coming home tomorrow....

At first I didn't really think much of it when he told me Dr. Neel said it to him this morning. But when I was at the hospital this afternoon, both the nurse and the physical therapist mentioned it. It's written in his chart. So I am keeping my fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong or flares up overnight.


He had his knees drained Monday to ease the problem from gout. So he's been moving more. He's eating more and talking more. All of which are good things.


It will be so nice to get him home. It's been a long 17 days.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Slow going

I had my hopes up that Mike might be getting home Monday, but of course, something else has come up. Dr. Neel said if he spent Saturday and Sunday out of bed and moving around and eating, he would be ready to go home.

Well, he's getting better on the eating part. But now he has gout in his left knee and he can't move. He's in a lot of pain from it. They are giving him some steroids and pain medication. If it's not better tomorrow, they'll bring in a rheumatologist to see what they can do. They think it's a result of all the fluids and medications he's had over the past two weeks building up around his joints.

But aside from that, he's really doing well. His blood counts are normal, the kidney doctor has stopped coming by because that's all normal now, and they stopped the nutrition in the IV. He's also talking now, which is nice.

As soon as the knee is taken care of and he can get back on his feet, he'll be coming home. It really is always something, isn't it?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What day is this?

Seriously, I'm losing track. Mike has been in the hospital for 11 days now. It seems like a year. He has reached that stage where he just wants to get the hell out of there. And I can't blame him. Since he's been there, he's not had more than two hours of sleep at a time. Nurses and doctors are constantly in his room, checking his blood pressure, changing IVs, bringing pills or making him try to sit up. He just wants to come home so he can get some rest.

So he is on a feeding tube, which is really just an IV. Nothing down his nose, so that's good. In the meantime, he's slowly starting to eat actual food: yogurt, Jell-O and grapes. I don't even want to think about how much he weighs.

He's also getting some physical therapy to help him regain his strength. They've been doing leg and arm exercises and getting him to walk a little around his room. He's still weak and very tired.

But I'm hoping that we are getting closer to getting him home. I'm going to ask Dr. Neel in the morning what he needs to see happen before Mike can be released. Maybe that will give us something to work with as well as a time frame.

I hope it's soon. I forget what our normal life looks like. I'm missing so much with my daughter. The other night I got home just as it was time for bed, and I wanted to tuck her in and she said "No, mama. Nana tuck me in." When I'm at the hospital with Mike, I'm feeling so guilty about not being with her. And when I'm with her, I'm worrying myself sick about what is going on wih Mike. I'm ready for this to be over.

I'm so grateful that Sue is here now. And I'm grateful for my mom doing my laundry yesterday. And I'm grateful for a good friend bringing us some yummy white bean chicken chili. And I'm grateful for Starbucks for keeping me fueled.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Road to recovery?

That's what Dr. Neel said this morning about Mike. Still having a hard time believing it. He's talking a little more and starting to sit up some, but is still very weak.

There has been some talk about bringing in a physical therapist to help Mike start to regain his strength so he can come home. I can't believe he's been there nine days now. It's all starting to blur together.

I took Julia to see him Tuesday evening. He was very happy to see her. And she was very happy to see him.

But the big issue for me right now is Mike's lack of eating. The doctors and nurses told him he needed to drink three Ensures a day and three of these icky-tasting protein shots since he won't eat. This was after the threat last week from the dietician of a feeding tube.

Well, here it is five days later and he's barely drinking two Ensures a day. It is a constant struggle all day long to get him to drink them. He's so mad at me for pushing but I don't care. I don't know what it's like to be as sick as he is, but I do know that he will never get better or regain his strength if he doesn't eat.

I'm beginning to think they should have given him the feeding tube. I'm going to see what Dr. Neel thinks about it. I just want him to come home.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Good numbers

I wanted to do an early post today because I left things last night pretty sour. While Mike still feels like crud and is still weak, his white cell counts are back to normal and some of the other things like the kidneys, etc. are improved as well.

Dr. Neel was very happy this morning. He said the light at the end of tunnel is near. Things should start to pick up.

Although I'm still having a hard time reconciling what the doctor is saying with how Mike looks. I'm a very impatient person.

However, he is reading the newspaper as I type and they want him to try to sit in a chair sometime today. I think I may bring Julia in this afternoon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Up and down

It's starting to seem like as soon as I write Mike's making some progress, the next day he's feeling like crap again. And so it is with today. This morning, he was a little more alert and active, reading the newspaper again.

I went home to give my mom a break and see Julia for a bit and when I came back he was again barely speaking or able to move. A nurse described him as "profoundly weak."

I was really hoping today he would start feeling better. His white blood cells are up to 2.9. They were .20 just two days ago. So that is good.

I just want him to feel better. I am nearly losing my mind so I can only imagine how he must be doing. I mean, how long can this go on? I just want our normal little life back.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Baby steps

Mike is still weak and unable to get out of bed, but I'm seeing small signs of improvement. And the best thing of all -- he got to see Julia today.

First the medical update: There were a ton of doctors in this morning. My sister-in-law Lisa was there so I could spend some time with Julia. Basically, they are monitoring his kidneys and his stomach, where they figure the infection is. They're fighting it off with antibiotics, but say it will ultimately get better when his white cells go up. They're starting to go up now.

One doctor said it was expected that Mike would be feeling like he is. He said once the white cells start to increase slowly, as Mike's are, the body can react by essentially getting worse before it gets better. He will probably feel like this for a few more days, then all of a sudden start to feel better. Again, the whole waiting game thing.

Mike was ordered to drink three Ensure "milkshakes" over the course of the day to get some calories and nutrition in him and to try to start getting his strength up. He didn't want to, but he did it. I wanted to jump for joy every time he finished one.

I had been going back and forth all week on whether to bring Julia to the hospital. She can't possibly understand what is going on and I was worried about her seeing Mike like he is. But yesterday, I really felt like he needed to see her in the flesh to remember why he's got to fight so hard. And the doctor agreed.

It went really well. Julia was not at all phased by the surroundings. She was just happy to see her dada. She wanted to get in bed with him so bad. But we sat her in a chair next to him and she drank her juice while he had an Ensure. She also tried to feed him Goldfish. Mike was beaming when he saw her and he made every effort to talk while she was there.

My mom took her home and I stayed and hung out with Mike. He was awake and alert the whole time while we watched a movie, and he even read the newspaper. This sounds like nothing but it was a big deal to me. He hasn't had the energy or desire to do any reading or watching TV this week.

So I'm really praying this means he's starting to turn the corner.

(Also today, we eagerly awaited text messages from Philip updating us about Kris, who was in labor. FINALLY Baby Felix arrived. 7 pounds 5 ounces, to be exact. He is so stinkin' cute already. We are over the moon.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

It never ends

I left the hospital feeling somewhat positive last night. Mike had been eating and a little more alert. When I got there this morning at 7:45, he was too weak to get out of bed.

The doctor thinks the lack of nutrition is taking its toll. So the goal for the day was supposed to be getting Mike to drink some protein shakes and eat something like applesauce.


But there are a million things going on. They can't figure out what's causing him to have a fever. They think it's an infection and they've been treating with antibiotics. But today they brought in an infectious disease specialist, who ordered some CT scans to see if there's infection growing somewhere it's not supposed to be. And to get a CT scan, he has to drink a ton of this chalky fluid. So much for getting him to eat to help him regain his strength.


His red blood cells are back to normal. The white ones are creeping up. I think they are supposed to be 3.9. His earlier this week were 0.16. Today they are 0.29.


I'm starting to lose track of all that is going on. There's a kidney doctor who sees him, an endocrinologist, a nutritionist, and now this other doctor. I feel so bad for him. He never gets a moment's rest.

The only good thing is that before Dr. Neel left this morning, he told him that while it doesn't seem like it, he will start to feel better.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More waiting

Mike is still weak today, still struggling to talk, sit up and eat. I asked the doctor WHEN he is going to start feeling better. The answer: It will take some time. They say that because he's been on chemo for a year and a half, it has a cumulative effect and it takes a while to bounce back from something like this.

He did sit up for a bit today and after threat of a feeding tube, he finally drank a protein shake, had some juice and ate applesauce. It's the first he's eaten since Sunday morning. The dietician said he wouldn't get any better if he wasn't getting some nutrition. They're counting his calories tonight to see what he can get in him. I guess if he doesn't meet a certain level, he'll be getting a tube down his nose. I am really really really praying that won't happen. Hopefully they will see he is making some effort.

He also actually watched some TV, sports of course. And I read some of the newspaper to him. I was happy to report to him that Maria Sharapova is out of the Australian Open.

Lisa decided to stay a couple more days and I'm actually going to go into work for a few hours tomorrow, so I don't use up all my sick time this week. If anyone wants to email me, it's ccherry@floridatoday.com

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day three

Much of the same for Mike again today. Though there have been some teeny improvements, which we'll gladly take.

He ate a couple of popsicles and drank half a soda. He hasn't had a bite of food since Sunday morning. Also the doctor wanted him to sit up today, so he sat in the chair in his room for about half an hour.

He's still just so tired and so weak. The hardest thing for me is that he's not talking, except for a word here and there. He just doesn't have the strength or energy to make the words. I miss hearing his voice.

The blood tests showed his kidneys were normal, so that is good. But his blood counts are still low. He's having another blood transfusion tonight, and he had an infusion of platelets this afternoon. He gets a shot every day of some drug that is supposed to boost his white blood cells. They just haven't gone up yet. A nurse told me today that often they will stay low and then jump up quickly.

I get the sense that this is really just a waiting game. The doctor and the nurses keep saying his counts will go up and he'll start feeling better. I just want it to happen right now.

Lisa is leaving tomorrow. She has been such a help. She went to the hospital early this morning, so I could spend some time with Julia. I hadn't seen her for days. And my mom has been watching her and helping around the house. My friend Sara is going to watch Julia on Friday so I can go into work for a little while and she made me some lasagna. Sue is coming down next week. I am so grateful to have such a good support system.

I will update everyone tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More of the same

Today was pretty much a repeat of yesterday. Mike is still weak, not able to talk very much and is sleeping a lot. His white blood cells are still pretty low. They are giving him medication to get it back up. He got a blood transfusion this afternoon and that brought his red cells back up, so we're hoping that will give him some strength back.

I just wish it would happen soon.

He's still running a fever and is receiving antibiotics to help him fight whatever the infection might be.

We're doing a lot of waiting and hoping all the fluids and meds will kick in and he'll start feeling better.

My sister-in-law Lisa is here and my mom has been taking care of Julia. Thank you for all the phone calls and messages. I will try to keep everyone posted on this site.

Please keep praying.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Please pray

Mike is in the hospital. He's been having a lot of side effects from chemo, which culminated in him getting dehydrated and having low blood pressure and low blood counts, in addition to a really bad bloody nose.

This morning, he was so weak, he couldn't walk. We went to the emergency room and they admitted him. They've been giving him fluids and various medications and platelets to get his counts back up. The bleeding finally stopped and he's been resting all day.

Dr. Neel stopped in this afternoon and said he thought Mike should be feeling better in a couple days. Part of the problem is that Mike is so stubborn, he didn't get help earlier in the week and let it go so long. I think he's learned his lesson on that.

But later tonight, Mike developed a fever and the nurses fear he's got an infection, which he won't be able to fight because he has no white blood cells. They're trying to pinpoint what it is, and are giving him antibiotics in the meantime.

Please keep us in your prayers. This is a really scary time.

Friday, January 15, 2010

We're ok



So many of you have sent notes asking how we're doing after this most recent setback. So I thought I would address that. Yes, the news really really really sucks. But we're getting through.

For the first three days or so I think we walked around in a stunned sort of numbness. I couldn't really think about anything else. I was clinging to Mike, not really letting him out of my sight. I sat outside the bathroom while he showered.

It's Mike who's lifting me up. We had this conversation last week:
Me: What are we supposed to do here?

Him: What do you mean?

Me: I mean, are we just supposed to walk around like nothing is wrong?

Him: What do you want to do?

Me: I want to lay in bed and not move.

Him: What good would that do? We have to keep living our lives.


Mike is right. I would say a relative normal has set back in and we're focusing on thinking positive about chemo and keeping up the fight. We have this beautiful girl who needs us and who makes it very hard to be in a bad mood. Mike is still working, covering games in the freezing cold. School started back up this week for me. Julia still demands to be tickled every half hour or so, and one of us will always oblige. We are OK.

It helps that you all are thinking of us too.