Why “Hanley Cow Express”?
Years ago the trains ran through Hanley, near the Lathrum homes. Every time the whistle blew we said “Here comes the Hanley Cow.”
Tuesday, November 26
So much for the snow. When we got to Des Moines Monday morning, we could see a little snow in a few places, but we didn't see any here. It was only 15 degrees, so we got a taste of the cold.Saturday, November 22
Snow is coming! The first snow of the season is forecast for tomorrow and Monday. I see our friends and family in Minnesota can expect 9" of snow--enjoy it! Temperatures in the high 70s this week are hard to give up.
Kari had the first surgery of the reconstruction process on Friday and is doing very well. Her surgery was outpatient at noon (process was to cut an artery in order to "supercharge" the tissue they'll use in the next surgery) and she was at the kitchen table at 6:00 eating chicken & noodle soup. She's sore, tired and a little nausas, but the pain pills seemed to be handling the pain pretty well. They told her she should bounce back from this one pretty well and be able to go back to school on Monday. Brett didn't understand why he couldn't get on his mommy's lap for a book last night--they compromised on the couch.
Chemo done, radiation done, healing time, then . . . unexpected gall bladder surgery. For the last 6-8 weeks, Kari had been having occasional chest pain. One trip to the emergency room sent her home with "heartburn" and a prescription for that. She was better for nearly a month, and then Wednesday morning she had severe pain again. Dr. Buroker asked her about the level of pain, and when she told him an 8 out of 10 and that it lasts for 12 hours, he started digging. A scan and then ultrasound showed a gangrous gall bladder that needed come out. Dr. Baker was able to remove it with just 3 small incisions, Kari stayed at the hospital overnight, staples were taken out the next day, and Kari came home with no diet restrictions. She has to be careful lifting and is tired, but doing very well. She's not sure when she'll get back to school.Saturday, September 27, 2003
A month gone already, 22 radiation treatments done and 6 to go. Kari's doing very well. She's tired, but with the schedule she's keeping, she should expect to be tired--even without treatments. She leaves home at 6:30 a.m. for her 7:30 treatments. That puts her back at school about 8:15 and she only misses 1/2 hour of school. She's teaching a full schedule and then goes to volleyball after school. The practice days aren't so bad, but game days get pretty late.Monday, August 25, 2003
ALL CLEAR, PART 2! It's been a roller coaster again since I last wrote. On August 19, Kari met with the radiation doctor. While thoroughly looking at the two tests done the previous week, he saw "something". After conferring with the radiologist, they agreed there was "something" and that a PET scan was needed to see what it was. That test was completed today and results were "cancer free". So after celebrating 2 weeks ago, it was a tough week last week with the possibility of cancer still being present, and finally today's news was great! We appreciated the prayers, phone calls, and emails. Kari starts radiation on Wednesday: 6 weeks, 5 days a week. She got her 4 tattoos today (dots to help accurately set the machine each time) and is ready to start.Tuesday, August 12, 2003
ALL CLEAR! Kari received the results of her bone scan and CAT scan and there was no cancer! HURRAH! That leaves a green light to go on with the radiation.Friday, August 8, 2003 (Edited August 12)
Kari's last chemo is done! She told me on Tuesday evening that she was excited to know she had just one more, but was also dreading all that came with that one. We're now in day 3--in the middle of the worst of it. She's tired, achy, a little nauseous--but all "normal" and expected from the last ones.
How time flies! I've been slow with the update this time. Kari had chemo #9 last Wednesday, July 16. The treatment and days after have been much like before--days when everything from fingernails to teeth ache, some nausea, but not as nauseous as with the first kind. She did verify that there's only ONE more chemo, planned for August 6th. She's back on the Procreat (sp?) to raise blood levels but doing well. I think we need to do an "End of Chemo" celebration as we head back to school! Dates aren't definite, but the next step is radiation, which should begin the last of August, and continue 5 days a week for 6 weeks. She's planning to teach during this time. By the kids being here with us we'll be able to help with Brett in the evenings and at night.Wednesday, June 25, 2003
We have company! Kari's family is now here with us and we're certainly enjoying having our Brett fixes more minutes of every day! Steve told them Sunday morning it was just like being together on vacation. We continue to meet with the builder and are getting close to signing papers to move forward with their new house.Tuesday, June 17, 2003
My school duties for particular dates are finally over! I finished my adult teaching and tech assistance last night. I've brought some projects home for work in July, and will need to go work a couple of days, but those can be arranged. Summer (one month?) officially begins!Tuesday, June 3, 2003
Chemo #7 (the first of the new drug) is over, and they were right--it was much easier on Kari. Her nausea was minimal and today she was up doing dishes and even packed one box of "stuff" from the living room. She's 70% done with chemo--I don't think Kari is dreading the final 3 nearly as much now that she's had one that wasn't bad. Blood work still looked good with the weekly shots for anemia. She continues with physical therapy and also the "fills" to stretch the muscles.
Other News II: Rich starts a job with ING on Monday. It will be good for him to add some financial experience to the resume. He helped take care of Brett yesterday during the chemo visits--a little bonding time for Uncle Rich.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003 Chemo #5 is done. We saw Kari about 7 p.m. and she had been up to eat and was heading back to bed. Karen was there to help take care of Brett. Dr. Buroker did tell her today that there is a new chemo out (new since January even) and he's considering having Kari take a round (4 treatments, 3 weeks apart) of that chemo, too. That would add another 3 months of chemo, still to be followed by 6 weeks of radiation, 5 days a week. He keeps saying he just wants to be sure we take care of this the first time and Kari doesn't have to go through this again. She did ask if they could work around vacation--they told her "Yes" so she said "Ok, then I guess I'll do what you tell me." :-) In other news, Jeff started Academy in DM this week (9 week course). He's already recited his memory document (full page, word for word) and passed the first time, on the first day. He said that was a first in the history of the academy.
Saturday, April 12, 2003 Kari’s first week back at school went well. The sub was also there on Monday, so the kids and teachers both had a transition. One afternoon when she was tired and hot, Kari asked the kids if it would be ok if she took her hat off. They told her of course, go ahead—she watched to be sure no one was too distracted with it and she said none of them even really gave it a second look. She saw the plastic surgeon on Wednesday for another “fill”. The “For Sale” sign is in their yard. We had a lot of good help last weekend and during the week getting it ready for the market.
Thursday, April 3, 2003 Chemo #4 went well! I'm so thankful they found a med that takes away most of the nausea for Kari.
Sunday, March 23, 2003 To update last week . . . On Tuesday, Kari saw the plastic surgeon and more saline solution was placed in the “bladder” (my term—not sure what they really call it) which was placed behind the muscle in the chest wall. As more liquid is placed in it, the muscles are stretched. This will be a weekly doctor visit to allow a small amount to be inserted each week. Wednesday she saw a physical therapist and received a lot of good information and some new exercises. She felt good about her progress after seeing the therapist and will return there in a couple of weeks. Steve and I took off for a few days and family and friends helped take care of Kari and Brett while we were gone. Brett got the flu and others still came in to help out. All of us send our “Thanks” for the help. Leigh had her wisdom teeth out this week and Rich made it home this morning from a spring break trip with the guys to Florida.
Saturday, 3/15 So far, Kari has weathered this chemo treatment well. She has been tired, but that’s not unexpected. She has a couple of appointments next week—one to add more saline solution to the bladder that is installed behind the muscle wall (step one of reconstruction process). She also will start to see a physical therapist for her right arm—common after a mastectomy and lymph node removal. Otherwise, we don’t expect any changes for a few days, except continued recovery!
Thursday 3/13 6 a.m. Just got an update on Kari—the good news is that she didn’t get sick from the chemo this time! They gave her another medication yesterday that they hadn’t given her before—yea! She was still sleeping this morning and hadn’t gotten up once since going to bed. One of her fears was the pain at the surgery site if she got sick again—luckily she didn’t have to experience that!
Wednesday 3/12 Doctor visit and Chemo #3. Dr. Buroker seemed very happy with the progress so far. He felt Kari had responded very well to the first two chemo’s and thought the pathology results were also good (lymph nodes removed being cancer free). He wants 3 more chemo treatments after today (3 weeks apart, total of 6 treatments), to be followed by 5 to 6 weeks of radiation, 5 days a week. He told her he wanted her to come visit him when he was old and in the nursing home and while they were fighting this they were going to be sure they killed it! Kari was a little surprised at the duration of radiation—Buroker knew this and came up to see her again while she was having the treatment. The port made the chemo much easier. Kari said it hurt some when they inserted and removed the connection to the port, but it was well worth it. When they first started using the port she told them it stung, so they took time to take her for a dye test to be sure the port was working properly. It was, so she went back to finish the chemo. Looking ahead and counting weeks, Kari should be done with treatments the first part of July. I think this seems like a long road right now, but we’ll break it into smaller parts and get there one step at a time! When I left Winterset about 9:30, Kari was in bed, very tired. I’ll spend tomorrow with her while Jeff’s at work.
Tuesday 3/11 Kari is recovering from her surgery and each day finds her a little bit stronger. It is a slow process but she is making good headway with everyone’s help and prayers! Tomorrow on 3/12 she will start her next round of chemo.
Monday 3/3 Kari tried to go with only Tylenol yesterday, but went back on her pain meds today and seemed much better. She was up in the rocking chair, reading a book today while Grandpa took a nap with B. Hand was swollen some tonight—will keep an eye on it tomorrow.
Friday, 2/28 I was off today because of conferences this week, so I spent some time with Kari and let the guys get out of the house for a while. Kari’s doing well—the bandages are off and she’s started doing some exercises with her hand. Her arm and side are numb/tingly, but I guess that’s normal. She had a little fever in the a.m., but it seemed to go down with the pain meds, which have Tylenol. She’s keeping a good eye on the temperature and is also good about calling the doctor’s offices when she has questions.
Wednesday, 2/26 Kari saw the plastic surgeon today and he removed the drainage tubes. She also called oncologist’s office and made an appointment for the next chemo round—March 12. Time to look toward the next step!
Monday, 2/24 A good news day! We received the pathology report today and all 16 lymph nodes tested were free from cancer!!! The chemo (and the prayers, too), were definitely working, as we knew from a previous scan that one of the lymph nodes was cancerous in the beginning. The report did say that the cell membrane had been infiltrated, and when Kari felt this wasn’t good news and asked the nurse about it, the nurse replied that was the reason they had done the chemo, so I believe that condition was expected. Kari was getting along about the same as yesterday—a little more pain, but still doing well. They’ll see the plastic surgeon on Wednesday.
Sunday, 2/23 K is doing well at home. As the pain medication wears off she has some pain and is ready for the next dose, but nothing unexpected. She spent some time in bed yesterday but did very well in the recliner, too. Brett is back home tonight—I think they’re having to do a little behavior modification because Grandma and Grandpa held him more than usual! Doctor appointment coming up on Wednesday. Thanks to everyone for the calls, prayers, and acts of kindness.
9:15 a.m. Sat. 2/22 Just talked to K and she’s coming home sometime today—she didn’t know how early/late in the day. She said she’s still having quite a bit of pain and the doctor said that’s normal. I encouraged her to just keep telling the nurses that in case there’s something different they can do. She said she was able to walk seven laps last night. Pathology report won’t be in until Monday. Brett’s helping me type this so I’m quitting while the page still looks pretty good. :-)
Friday, 2/2 B got to see his Mommy today after school. He was tired, but they were both glad to see each other. K is off the morphine and up walking around. She did 3 laps around the floor about 4:30. When we left, she had two more walks to take tonight. She had McDonalds cheeseburger, fries, and shake (thanks Karen) and then also ate some of the supper the hospital brought. She was taking the pain medicine as often as she could, but doing pretty well. She was tired when we left, but she hadn’t slept very well last night nor napped much today, either. J was staying with her again tonight—hopefully they’ll both get some rest. She may be home tomorrow—we’ll have to see what the doctor says.
Update 2/20, 10:30 p.m. We’re finally home and can write an update. K was to be at the hospital at 10:30 this morning with surgery scheduled for 1:00. She didn’t leave for surgery until after 2:00. All four parents were able to spend some time with her and J. We also appreciated Sandy S’s and Steve K’s prayers before K left for surgery. We saw the surgeon after the first hour of surgery and he felt everything had gone well. The plastic surgeon saw us after his portion of the surgery and also felt everything went as planned. We won’t get a pathology report until at least tomorrow afternoon, and probably not until Saturday. She left recovery and got to her room about 6:30, and was hooked up to some pain medicine. We stayed a bit, then picked up little guy and went for something to eat with R. Little guy is spending the night with us. A long day, but thankful surgery went well . . . now on to recovery!
Update 2/19—K & J stopped by after their appointments--she will have surgery tomorrow (Thursday 2/20). They will do a mastectomy and also do the preliminary steps for reconstruction. We'll send an update tomorrow evening.
Update 2/18—K went to the surgeon today. The tumor has shrunk to half its original size and he agreed that it’s time for the tumor to come out. She sees the plastic surgeon tomorrow (3/19) then back to see the surgeon and get the details set. She will have a mastectomy, surgery could be Friday or early next week.
Kari went to the oncologist on Tuesday (2/11). The tumor had shrunk to about ½ the original size. He decided to forego the third chemo before surgery. She will have a mammogram and see the surgeon on Tuesday, February 18, 2003. Surgery is expected 3 – 5 days later, to be followed by more chemo and radiation.
R is still at school this semester and spending more time on projects as the course level gets higher. He’s on the job hunt for summer—Blue Bunny’s not sure about their budget for summer, so he’s looking for an alternative—just in case. Leigh sent good news last week: her Varieties cast won the competition and she won best actress and best female soloist awards!
And of course our grandchild is still the most perfect baby we’ve ever seen! He’s now clapping and took another single step this week (2/27).